While most of us are deciding if we’ll make it to week three of our new year’s resolutions through a cold winter, most of the school, district and university administrators we work with are hip-deep in the hottest part of the year -- budget season! The outcomes of these internal meetings, negotiations and applied game theory won’t hit until the weather actually heats up, but the smartest administrators we know are maximizing their edtech budgets right now.

A word on perspective: I’m a former teacher and administrator (a CFO for schools actually) and now run a Benefit Corporation that works with thousands of educators and their central offices -- they use LearnPlatform to organize, manage and measure their edtech, so they can improve outcomes and budgets.  

U.S. schools and universities will spend more than $12 billion on education technology this year! The (former) CFO in me knows that maximizing budgets requires data, details and insights about your unique organization, its people and its needs -- not just broad reports, spreadsheets, white papers and a plus/minus amount on last year’s expenditures. The smartest budgets are from organizations that, as Socrates said, “first, know thyself.” LearnPlatform allows every teacher, school and district to instantly manage a real-time library of all their education technology -- if you don’t know what you have, use and pay for, it’s really hard to get better.

Here are 4 ways great administrators are maximizing their edtech so they can drive outcomes and save budget dollars.

1. Analyze faculty insights - You’ve got experts in every classroom. If your educators don’t want it, or it doesn’t match their needs, or it could be better, your spending won’t match your teachers’ needs. Provide a rapid way to make and aggregate requests for specific edtech tools, and ensure you’ve analyzed what teachers think of the tools they have. If you don’t have a way, we offer a free research-based rubric on eight most important criteria for teachers when they try buy and use edtech tools -- and LearnPlatform users get educator insights and analysis on any product 85% faster.

2. Analyze product utilization - Our data shows that 37%-65% of paid student licenses go completely UNUSED. That’s a lot of budget dollars!

Perhaps you don’t need licenses for EVERY student; maybe there’s an opportunity to improve the roll out for greater uptake; or, maybe training and PD would be better spots for those dollars to maximize impact. If you’re not getting or analyzing utilization data, please do it! LearnPlatform allows you to analyze your product utilization by school, student or any other level -- and our team is fantastic; it’s common for them to help a new client identify hundreds of thousands of dollars in unused licenses in just a few hours. We also have a chrome extension for Google Apps for Education that’s wizardry for knowing what’s being used.

3. Analyze impact on student achievement - If you had a finite budget and two instructional methods and tools -- one that showed some positive correlation with specific instructional situations in your district and another that showed no or negative correlation -- which would you budget for? While some large organizations do months of expensive, third-party evaluations to figure this out, our IMPACT Analysis does 1.5 million calculations in 2.6 seconds to help users understand in which situations their tools and practices are working best.  

4. Get updated details directly from vendors (without the sales calls) - “What’s the renewal price for that tool? Are there changes or new offerings? Will they still be compliant, given the new regulations? Could we get a better deal if we combined our site license?” ASK THE VENDORS…. ON YOUR TERMS!  

Some districts are using our vendor engagement module in an ingenious way. Normally used to increase purchasing power and streamline purchasing, districts are now requesting their current vendors quickly provide answers to these (and many other) questions through the LearnPlatform. The district staff then uses the centralized information to inform, approve, review and update their budgets.

As a former CFO, I always felt “data rich and information poor.” Many of these practices seemed impossible or just like too much effort. Frankly, that’s why I started Lea(R)n and our team built LearnPlatform -- to make it easier to make data-driven decisions about our instruction and budgets.